December 2, 2009
England have been confirmed as one of the top seeded teams going into the World Cup in 2010. Other “top seeds” are Spain, Italy, Holland, Argentina, Germany, Brazil and World Cup hosts South Africa. England’s confirmation as a top seeded team means that they have a potentially easier route to the later stages of the competition…
Of course, England haven’t really been worthy of top seed status for a few years now, and despite an impressive qualifying campaign, you really have to question if England should be seeded ahead of France and Portugal. You remember France? They won it in 1998 and were Runner Up in 2006, as well as winning Euro 2000. And Portugal, I do vividly remember them beating England in 2006 and also beating England in Euro 2000.
With Portugal and France missing out on seeded status, it makes the group stages fairly interesting. England could well have to take part in the now seemingly obligatory “Group of Death” containing The United States, The Ivory Coast and…France.
So, why have France missed out on seeded status this time? Jerome Valke, Fifa’s General Secretary, has been forced to deny that the French are being punished covertly for Henry’s handball. That’s probably true, England’s qualifying campaign and performance in friendly matches in 2009 has certainly been far superior to France’s. But there is no doubt that England’s selection as a top seeded team is certainly an eyebrow raiser.
I suspect that the main issue at play here is money. It’s in Fifa’s best interests to ensure that England stay involved in the competition for as long as possible. England fans are where the money is, we spend the most, it’s as simple as that. The South Africans need the English South African rand to soothe their battered economy.